Ellie’s Rainy Day Fund helps families, pets

Being a pet owner is one of the most rewarding things in a person’s life because pets give love unconditionally. They become a member of the family, and like all families, there are some hardships that they must endure including sickness.

Ellie’s Rainy Day Fund is an organization that is there to help to pay for specialty and emergency veterinary services to families who otherwise could not afford it. The organization was founded by Juli Burnell of Beavercreek.

“I really want to see people to be able to relax about the fact that if something happens with their fur family member, there are others that can help. I don’t want people to go through heartache,” Burnell said.

Burnell began the organization because of her own experience with her dog Ellie. Ellie was just 5 months old when she began having health problems. It was at the veterinarian’s office that she got the idea for the fund.

“When I was sitting in the waiting room scared she was going to die, I saw so many people come into the facility. Some left with a pet in pain or in a box simply because they couldn’t pay. What if that were me? It might be me some time. What if I set up something to help those who run into an emergency,” she said.

And that’s what she did. Ellie’s Rainy Day Fund was started in 2015. Burnell partners with veterinarians around the Miami Valley, and only those partners can ask for a grant from the fund. The veterinarians identify the emergency need and then contact Burnell.

This means the vet knows how the animal has been cared for, the probability of success of the needed treatment, and the follow-up care that the family will give to the pet. Since its beginning, the fund has helped more than 370 families with around $600,000 in animal care.

“I know pet lovers are the kindest, most generous folks in the world. They want to help their neighbors avoid the heartache of economic euthanasia, so this fund uses 100% of donations for veterinary emergency care, all for local families,” Burnell said.

One of the many families helped by the fund was that of Sarah Irons. After Irons’ mother died, her wife got her a German Shepard puppy named Indy. One day Indy wasn’t herself and became incontinent. After many vet visits and a couple of thousand dollars later, Irons found out that Indy would need an expensive surgery to keep her alive.

“A woman at the vet mentioned a program she would look in to, and I got the call the next day. I talked to Juli and she put up close to $7,000 to help Indy. It was a miracle for us,” Irons said.

During the COVID pandemic, the need for animal care grew as people stayed home and weren’t working. Because of this uptick in need, the fund is looking to raise funds. Paul Moyer, who is on the board for Ellie’s Rainy Day Fund, said that donations are necessary for the nonprofit.

“We encourage people we’ve helped to spread the word. We need donors to support this. We don’t want to limit the number [of pets] we help, but it hasn’t come to that,” he said.

The organization has a Faithful Friends program where people can make a monthly donation to the fund no matter the amount. The group also has a team of volunteers that help with social media, event planning and fundraising.

“If you want to be a helper, be a Faithful Friend or volunteer. You can be a hero every month and get great stories. We send stories to friends and volunteers whenever an animal is saved,” Burnell said.

An event will be held on Oct. 1 to help raise money for the fund. It’s called “Dogs on the Catwalk: Howl-O-Ween Edition,” and all the “models” will be the dogs that have been saved by the fund. The event will be held at the Sinclair Community College Ponitz Center. There will be lunch, as well as a 50/50 raffle. Irons’ dog Indy will be part of the show.

“I will continue to donate as long as I can. My goal is to repay her [Burnell], so she can continue to do what’s she’s doing. That’s my ultimate goal. I’ll continue to show up and embarrass my dog at the fashion show,” Irons said.

For more info on the event, tickets, or how to donate, visit www.elliesrainydayfund.com.

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